In the last few weeks, we’ve heard announcements from assorted musicians that they will soon be retiring from touring. Neil Diamond. Paul Simon. Aretha Franklin. Elton John. Lynyrd Skynrd. Changes due to health concerns or maybe they’re just not feeling the need to tour after 40 or 50 years. I’m sure they’ve made enough money for their grandchildren’s grandchildren to retire on.
And then there are those celebrities who recently passed away. We have no reason to be surprised, of course. Marty Allen (you may remember him from the 60s comedy duo, Rossi & Allen) died at 95. Vic Damone (one of my mother’s favorite singers in the 50s) died at 90. Jerry Van Dyke (“My Mother the Car”) died at 86. John Mahoney (Frasier’s dad) died at 78. Dennis Edwards (former lead singer of The Temptations) died at 75. Keith Jackson (I remember him from ABC’s Wild World of Sports and as the voice of ABC’s coverage of bowling on Saturday afternoons) died at 90.
Sad, but certainly not unexpected.
What’s happening here? The celebrities of my childhood are all leaving us. I feel a bit older each time I hear of a childhood icon who’s now gone.
Some of you will find this morbid or weird. Several years ago, I participated in a death pool. By the middle of January each year, each participant came up with a list of 50 celebrities who we thought might leave this earth during that coming year. We’d get points based on how far away from 100 they were at the time of their passing. So if unfortunately had Michael Jackson in 2009, you earned 51 points. In 2016, Zsa Zsa Gabor earned you one point. At the time, if you were a celebrity, you wanted to be on my list because I typically garnered minimal points at the end of the year.
Running the pool was a lot of work and I, thankfully, never had that job. But I participated for a few years at $20 a year, and it was fun while it lasted. Looking back now, I realize how morbid and depressing it was, but I wonder if I would have even dreamed of including country singer Lari White (she was 52) or actor Reg E. Cathey (he was 59) on my list if we were doing it again in 2018.
And what of today’s millennials? Will they remember and be sad for celebrities like Nas, SZA, Kesha (I’m trying to think of the musicians with the crazy/stupid names!) in 30 years when the millennials are 60? Will they care?